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TMCNet:  White House hails website as vastly improved, 90% functional [CurrentPageNumber][CurrentPageNumber] [Virginian - Pilot]

[December 02, 2013]

White House hails website as vastly improved, 90% functional [CurrentPageNumber][CurrentPageNumber] [Virginian - Pilot]

(Virginian - Pilot Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) By Robert Pear The New York Times WASHINGTON The Obama administration said Sunday that it had met its goal for improving so that the website now "will work smoothly for the vast majority of users." In effect, the administration gave itself a passing grade. Because of hundreds of software fixes and hardware upgrades in the past month, it said, the website - the main channel for people seeking to buy insurance under President Barack Obama's health care law - is now working more than 90 percent of the time, up from 40 percent during some weeks in October.

Jeffrey Zients, the Obama adviser leading the website repair effort, said consumers were having a much better experience now than in early October.

In a "progress and performance report," the administration summarized five weeks of frantic activity to repair the website and undo damage to Obama's political standing.

The report, issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, said that after the repairs, 50,000 people can use the website simultaneously, and that pages fail to load well under 1 percent of the time, compared with more than 6 percent before the overhaul.

Neither Zients nor the report indicated how many people were going through all the steps required to enroll in a health plan through the website, which serves residents in 36 states.

Zients said that management of the website had been impaired by "slow decision-making and diffuse or unclear accountability." The report did not blame anyone by name.

Zients said hardware enhancements had increased its "redundancy and reliability," eliminating a bottleneck that prevented many people from even registering to use it in early October.

The six-month open enrollment period began Oct. 1 and continues through March 31. People who go without insurance after that may be subject to tax penalties. Federal officials expect a surge of traffic on the website just before Dec. 23, the last day to sign up for coverage that takes effect Jan. 1.

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